I couldn’t help but stare. There they were, sitting in the front row of the comedy club, taking up prime real estate, with, I shit you not, a bottle of champagne on ice. That should’ve been the warning sign, but I let it go because this is New York and New Yorkers DGAF, so if you want to drink champers at a comedy club, who am I to judge and who were they to let themselves be judged? At least they went well, well over the universal comedy club two-drink minimum, amiright?

My stare turned to a glare soon after the show started, though. As comedian after comedian went up, some for their very first stand-up gig, these three people did not crack even one smile. They just stared up at whomever was on stage with a blank stare similar to a look of mine that Tom tells me is “like the mask of a madman,” which usually appears when he’s telling a too-long story that I know is going to go nowhere, talking about something that has to do with math or numbers or includes directions for using electronic equipment.

There was a hint of a smile on one of their faces during Tom’s set, I’m happy to report, but that was pretty much it. I mean, this trio was so bad that some later comedians started calling them out from the stage, which was hilarious — especially when their madman mask look got even more stony.

But this isn’t just an isolated incident I’ve come to find out. As Tom’s been making the rounds at comedy shows the past few weeks, I’ve been there in the audience sitting amid so many people who sit with pusses on their face, miserable as F, and it perplexes me.

Why attend a comedy show — and pay a cover charge plus two-drink minimum (which sometimes isn’t all that cheap) — and not allow yourself to be entertained or crack a smile or let out even the faintest of chuckles?

And I know what you’re thinking: “Well, Nikki, maybe some of the comedians they’re seeing just aren’t that funny?” Allow me to retort. I’m not just talking about laughing here. Even if some people on stage aren’t as funny as others, there are things to laugh at in most sets, whether it’s a genuine chuckle or just that laugh-like noise one does when they’re uncomfortable. What I’m not seeing is a reaction of any kind. Like, nothing, absolutely nothing.

Way before Tom started doing standup, we would frequent comedy clubs because we love to laugh. Even when we’re seeing red with rage, as we often do, we always find something funny to diffuse the situation. Hell, we even started “HRS” because we think we’re pretty damn funny together and thought we’d see if we can make something of ourselves using our charming, hilarious personalities, so comedy, laughter and fun has always been a major vein in our lives together.

Just a few years back, we were weekly regulars at Gotham Comedy Club’s AXS TV tapings, and the mood wasn’t like it is today, where so many people sit in the audience with stone-cold resting bitch faces practically set to “Murder.” People actually laughed and enjoyed themselves. And, of course, some comedians did get better reactions than others, but people genuinely seemed happy to be there, to be out — and understood they were at a comedy show whose sole intention is to make them laugh.

Are we so far gone in today’s oh-so-PC world that we’ve forgotten laughter? Or how to be happy? Are we really that trigger happy with our “I’m offended” buttons? Are we seriously so sensitive that we’re desensitized to humor? Fuck, man. Like Jimmy Buffett sang in “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” “if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”

We are all going insane with the state of today’s world. How could we not, with ISIS, shootings, racism, sexism, this horrible, no good very bad election, and and and?

If we don’t remember to laugh and find some form of joy in our lives, “they” win, people. They win. Trump might even win (gulp). Don’t let them. Remember laughter. Remember the happy person you used to be. Remember when you used to laugh, and let one out.

Oh, and be sure to listen to our podcast. We’ll even accept laughing at us, not just with us because even that would be progress.

Categories: Entertainment

When Nikki M. Mascali is not working as a journalist in New…

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